18 Dec 2009
The thermometer read a brisk 20 degrees and my shoes were wet from the snow piled up on the streets. The place was filling up. Jane mentioned to a customer that she didn’t think they would be busy this morning with the frightful weather. The customer replied, “well, the food is just that good.”
The food is “just that good.” This beautiful jewel at 180 S. Howard in Downtown Spokane is a savory and sweet treat not to be missed.
Taste Cafe & Gourmet To Go opened their doors in February 2009. Mother and daughter, Jane and Hannah Heber, dreamed of providing a modern comfortable atmosphere where people can get quality food (to stay or to go)! Jane, a British native by way of Laguna Beach, spent 17 years dealing in British antiquities prior to moving to Spokane in 2007. Hannah, slaving away in the big city corporate world of San Francisco, jumped at the opportunity to explore her baking passions. She attended culinary school in Spokane prior to opening Taste Cafe.
The atmosphere is modern, elegant and comfortable. Photography by Todd Sackmann adorns the exposed brick to the left, while beautiful modern art paintings on display from Ed Gilmore line the remaining walls. See the video for the visual tour. Taste Cafe offers sweet morning treats from sticky buns, scones, muffins and the amazing twice baked almond croissant to afternoon sweets like cookies, cakes, tarts and pies. For the savory side of morning you can enjoy sausage rolls and assorted baguettes. Stop by in the afternoon or on the way home for dinner and dine on a rotating assortment of soups, salads, paninis, lasagna, pot pies and more.
In my review, I feel that there are three things that set Taste Cafe apart as a top notch business in Spokane; 1) Impeccable taste – in atmosphere, decoration, design (logo & print) and food. Everything is made with fresh ingredients and from what I ate, I can only assume that everything is amazing. Jane and Hannah wanted to give special recognition to their brand, web and print consultants, The Purple Turtle 2) Beer and Wine service – it is more common to enjoy a beer or glass of wine with lunch. The selection of each was small but included quality offerings for discerning customers. 3) To Go! – Being in a downtown urban core, there is not a lot of opportunity for drive by coffee service, but getting amazing breakfast and lunch delivered to your downtown business is perfect. Not only can Taste Cafe cater (and host) your office event or party, they are available to cater weddings, birthdays, and other special events.
- Taste Cafe is open 7am – 4pm Monday – Friday and on Saturday for brunch (and their regular menu) from 8am – 3pm.
Brunch is definitely on my upcoming calendar of things to do. Taste Cafe is a perfect excuse to head downtown on a Saturday morning for brunch before going shopping at River Park Square. Give them a call when planning your next event or party too. Let them prepare the sweet and savory, so you can enjoy your guests.
- www.facebook.com/tastecafespokane and www.twitter.com/tastybuns
- 180 S. Howard 468-2929 www.tastecafespokane.com
The Coffee: Taste Cafe serves Doma Roasting Company coffee. I enjoyed an Americano from their Vito’s Espresso blend.
- The Swirl: The cup was not clear but from what I could tell the color was very dark and was obviously a dark roast blend
- The Sniff: Great aroma – scores very high on the wake you up in the morning meter. Got a little dark chocolate and forest on the sniff
- The Sip: Much smoother than I expected. Not bitter like big brand espresso roasts. Finished with that hint of chocolate.
- The Score: Top notch a high 4
Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends. Stop by Taste Cafe, order up some coffee, wine or beer and DRINK.HAPPY!
17 Dec 2009
Thanks for stopping by. I just wanted to post this quick note to all the new visitors to the site today. My name is Josh and my passion is wine, coffee and writing about them.Take a look around the site. I think you’ll find a unique take on reviews that are creative, funny, witty, entertaining as well as informative. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my wine and coffee seriously. You’ll find local wine and coffee reviews, winery visits, social media tips, and stuff to make wine accessible to everyone! Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/nectarwine and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drinknectar. Have fun and stay a while.
15 Dec 2009
“Having a Twitter account and not using it is like opening your business without any inventory. People may stop by, but they’ll never be back.” – J. Wade
Are wineries leaving money on the table? Social Media / Social Networking (whatever you choose to call it) is not going away. 2009 may be thought of as the year that Twitter hit the mainstream, but 2010-2012 will prove to be the years where money is made (and lost) through social mediums. We are finally living in a time where businesses can have real time conversations with their consumers; real time feedback, real time promotions, real time complaint resolution, and real time viral excitement. As a winery, do you want to look back in a few years and think, “Boy I wish I got in on that in the early stages?” The longer the wait, the tougher the upstream swim.
“Social media offers new opportunities to activate…brand enthusiasm.” – Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central
In my analysis of the Spokane area wine market, I discovered that 11 of the 15 wineries have Facebook fan pages and seven have twitter accounts. Of these forward thinking wine lovers, there are two that are actually taking advantage of Social Media to stay connected to their customers. The remaining are just stores with no inventory. Social Media is a two-way conversation with your fans/followers. Having a Facebook fan page is a start – fans can interact with one another, but think of how much more effective it would be if you responded to their comments? The interaction generates greater brand and product loyalty.
Good friend and Social Media Guru, @SeattleWineGal (Barbara Evans) has a fantastic post on the benefits of Social Media for wineries. It is an insightful post and worth the hop over to read it! It starts with trust, continues with reputation building and ends with increased sales.
“Social media efforts that have a strategic focus, plan, and goal, as well as a properly maintained and executed campaign, will result in an increase in sales.” @SeattleWineGal Barbara Evans
What is your Social Media strategy?
I realize that many wineries, specifically Spokane wineries, are smaller operations that keep busy maintaining the day-to-day tasks of growing, harvesting, fermenting, filtering, bottling, and distributing their passions. “I can’t afford to take time out to tweet or update my Facebook status.” Upcoming harsh tone is intentional – Can’t afford free advertising. Can’t afford free word of mouth. Can’t afford free brand loyalty. Can’t afford increased sales. Attitudes like that will lead to obsolescence as customers vote with their wallet and move to products they can engage and build loyalty with.
Three Tier Tactics
Web sites are static information mediums. A web page is a necessary business card element as customers are in the habit of searching for businesses in the .com .net world, but they don’t provide an opportunity to interact in real time. Keep your web site fresh by including feeds from your twitter account and current event, product information, or even a blog if you have time (heck, you can link to mine or any of the thousands of well written blogs out there). Web sites are often a first impression of your product and are a great place to push people larger amounts of information as you interact through Social Media.
Facebook Fan Page:
Facebook fan pages are Social Media, static information, and fan interconnectivity rolled into one. With 3 out of 4 Americans using social media and Facebook being the king, NOT having a Facebook page immediately puts you at a significant disadvantage. Just having one isn’t that much better. The key (as with Twitter) is to use it. Fans and followers want to connect. The conversation is part of the brand experience. Sharing pictures of the crush, responding to user tasting notes, sharing upcoming events (along with event pictures and then responding to users who attended) will do way more for brand loyalty than thousands of dollars spent in magazines and trade publications. Imagine the romance your customers will have as you describe the process of the 2009 vintage that you’ll be releasing in 24 months. They will have felt a part of the process. Your customers are online, now more than ever.
I could talk at length about ways to maximize Twitter (and Facebook) use, below are five key steps!
- Build your base: Invite customers to follow you on Twitter (and Facebook) by including links in all e-mail, newsletter, web site, print publication, etc. These links should become a part of every distribution avenue (including your business card).
- Follow your followers’ friends: Chances are your followers/fans have friends who are interested in the same things they are…YOU! There is no need to be overzealous. Take it slow, follow 30-50 at a time and then add more as they follow you.
- Be Social! Small Town Rules: When you see interesting posts, retweet them. “RT @personname Great post on such and such topic. Excellent read! http/hyperlink.” Putting the RT and @personname is the handshake and endorsement. Reply to people as they follow you or if they re-tweet your posts. Over time you’ll see exponential interaction…if you follow the next step.
“Remember to put the ‘social’ in Social Media. Meeting in person and talking on the phone are still great ways to connect. The digital space is an extension of actual human interaction, not a replacement.” – Rick Bakas @RickBakas St Supery Winery
- Tweet informative and often: It can be a challenge to keep content to 140 characters, but be creative! Don’t be afraid to tweet the same information several times in a day. Tweets (and Facebook updates) are real time feeds. If you tweet, “Hey wine lovers, stop by our tasting room today and receive 10% off our newest release,” it’ll be off of most peoples radar within the hour (or even minute). With your frequent updates and potential re-tweets, your single post can quickly reach hundreds and thousands of people.
- Don’t sell, offer incentive: Fans are less likely to respond to 2007 Cabernet for only $19.99 (unless it’s normally $50) than tweets of, “Stop by, watch the bottling, and receive $5 off with mention of this tweet.” These incentives will also give you the opportunity to track effectiveness.
Much more could be said to maximize social media, but putting these five principles into play will begin the process of building trust, brand excitement, loyalty and increased sales.
If you’re reading this thinking, “where do I start” or “this sounds good, but I think I need more help,” feel free to reach out to me. If I can’t answer your question of provide the time you need, I can certainly point you to the right person. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Will you be the one to stand out? Your fans are waiting. DRINK.HAPPY!
14 Dec 2009
I realized it had been a while since I’ve done a coffee review. I’ve visited some great local coffee shops (Coffee Social – see review and Taste Cafe - review coming soon) and I’m excited about the local scene.
I was in a small local market picking up some wine for review and saw a display stand of coffee I’ve never tried. Moka Joe roasters is from Bellingham, WA. They import and roast only Fair Trade sustainably grown coffee. While some coffees designated as ‘Fair Trade’ may be a marketing ploy, the concept does provide greater profits to the local co-ops of farmers that participate. Traditional imported coffee is largely controlled by middle eastern religious groups that only funnel 1-2% of the profits go back to the local farmers. Farm profits for fair trade coffee run around 10%.
The coffee’s tasted in this episode are both $10.95 for 12oz and can be purchased online at http://shop.mokajoe.com
Why review? I think these reviews not only help me, but they help YOU decide what to buy. These are my opinions. I often taste things I have little or no experience with. The side by side comparisons facilitate the decision-making process when you see the product in the store.
Cafe Feminino Peru – Medium Roast
- The Swirl: Milk chocolate in color, cloudy
- The Sniff: Mild aroma with characteristics of earthiness, mocha, and nutty. Decent, but only a medium low on the wake me up in the morning meter.
- The Sip: Smooth with mild acidity.
- The Score: If you like smooth coffee I would give it a 3+. Typically a higher premium for Fair Trade coffee, so at $10.95 per 12oz you may want to look for a better deal.
After the review, learned from the web site that this coffee is made by Peruvian women high in the Andes: (From Web Site) This is the story of women. Not just the women of rural Peru, but women throughout developing nations. Many of these women have no rights, are abandoned, are abused, and alone with children and no income.
Bolivian – Medium Dark Roast
- The Swirl: Darker than the previous coffee with less cloudiness
- The Sniff: Much more aromatic. Hints of cocoa, woodiness, and cherry fruit. Scores much higher on the wake me up in the morning meter
- The Sip: BAM – this coffee woke me up. While the other was boring to me, this one had spice, acidity, and a more bold nutty chocolate flavor.
- The Score: At $10.95 per 12oz I score this coffee a 4- I would buy it again to try in my single brew machine to see what flavor I get there.
Both coffee’s can be purchased at the Rocket Market on 43rd and Grand in Spokane or on the company web site.
Brew some coffee and enjoy life with friends and remember to DRINK.HAPPY!
13 Dec 2009
I walked into the dimly lit room and they immediately caught my eye, seductively sitting in the back corner begging to be approached. Their style was intimidating. They had a sense of class that the others didn’t. I wrestled with how to approach. My senses were mixed. There were others in the room who seemed more my type; familiar and safe. I walked their way, struggling with what to say. Do I fumble to speak their language, do I remain silent and just admire their beauty? Their embrace was welcoming. After some stimulating conversation and laughter, I decided to take them home for a petite gorgee de trois.
French wine can be intimidating. With the long noble history, elegant labels, strict regional rules, and challenging names many Americans shy away from some great new experiences. Tonight, I decided to take two beautiful French ladies home for a little romance. Both wines hailed from the Rhone region, specifically the Cote du Rhone area that is known for its production of Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier.
These elegant sounding wines were 60% Granache and 40% Syrah (tasting notes below)
While it may be intimidating to try new things (especially ones that are difficult to pronounce), it is important to broaden your wine horizons to be able to order intelligently or even know what to enjoy (or avoid) when presented with something new. Starting with the basic offering from Rhone, Loire Valley, or Bordeaux is a perfect way to expand your taste experience.
These were not French nobility. The French maids were available for under $12 at the local wine shop and represent a lower price option for wines from the region (think Chevy vs. Cadillac). Neither were overly impressive, but I was glad for the experience because now I know what to potentially buy and what to definitely avoid.
A few words of wisdom before having your own French connection: Do your homework – investigate at Cork’d or Cellar Tracker; check your local blogs, do a Google or Bing search. The information you find can help you avoid the nasty and discover the jewels. Be confident – don’t let the fancy labels or foreign language intimidate you. Finally, be safe – have protection in the form of a designated driver. Too much of a good thing, even pretty French ladies can lead to your ruin.
2007 Domain de Couron
- The Swirl: ruby garnet and well filtered
- The Sniff: Cherry, Earth and Paper
- The Sip: Moderate dark berry fruits, chalky, cedar. Mild alcohol and mild tannins
- The Score: At $12 USD I score this a 3+ Better than your average $12 Australian Syrah with more structure and interest.
After thinking about this one further, I would buy it again for an alternate taste and would recommend to those wanting to slowly work their way into the world of new tastes.
2006 Paul Joubolet Aine Paralelle 45
- The Swirl: Ruby garnet cherry color with moderate legs
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged but does present some earthiness and musty basement prior to the fruit.
- The Sip: Not much fruit, a little dry chalk with a hint of blackberry finish
- The Score: Even at $11 this is just a 3- in my book. Much better wines at this price. The wine does have a balanced flavor, just not one that I prefer.
I would pass on purchasing this wine again.
I hope this information is useful at some point (as well as entertaining). Enjoy life with friends, especially over a glass of wine.