Posts tagged Coffee Rites
Coffee Rites: Carolyn Daughters, Brand Strategist & Teacher
 
Carolyn sharing coffee rites in her writing loft.

Carolyn sharing coffee rites in her writing loft.

Carolyn Daughters is one of my favorite people in Denver, and it's a multi-bonus as her friend that she loves good coffee, knows English grammar better than Strunk & White, and can help even the saddest piece of writing (be it lowly email or ragged novel draft) find its heart and speak to the world with clarity and conviction.

Despite our toddler choosing this particular day to channel her inner wildebeest in the comfort of Carolyn's home, we were still able to talk with Carolyn for a few moments about coffee, Colorado, and the interlinked crafts of writing and marketing strategy. 

 

How did you become a Coloradan?

Back in 2002, I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, and my good friend Laurie lived in Colorado. I’d visit her often. One of my favorite things to do was climb mountains. Growing up, we weren’t a hiking family, and I was in my 20’s the first time I went on a real hike. On my visits to Colorado, Laurie and I hiked long and hard and earned our 360 degree views. At the top, I felt so small. It was humbling and aspirational. I saw Colorado as this amazing place where people greeted each other and waved as they passed. People left work at 5. Back in DC, we’d work until 8 or 9 and order in dinner. We worked weekends. Colorado was a culture shock. It felt different, laid back and relaxed. I felt freer and lighter here. So I moved here.

Carolyn and Laurie.

Carolyn and Laurie.

HOw did you become a writer/editor/marketing strategist/teacher?

Back in the 90’s, I worked at the Pentagon as an editor and writing instructor. It was my first job out of college. Later, I did proposal work, marketing, and PR for another company, then led a team of tech writers at INRI (Northrop Grumman) and a large team of writers at Lexis-Nexis. I also spent 4 years in grad school at the University of Virginia. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked full-time as a freelance writer, marketing strategist, book editor, and writing instructor. These experiences have enabled me to jump into most any kind of writing work.

These days I do a lot of small business marketing and brand strategy, corporate writing instruction, and fiction and nonfiction book editing. Many traditional writing courses focus on grammar and punctuation, but I focus on the art of argumentation. I mean, what’s the use of knowing how to use a comma if you can’t structure your thoughts in a compelling way? (Of course, once you’ve built a strong argument, you should figure out how to use that comma …)
I have two key communication rules. First, almost everything we write is intended for an audience. Emails, reports, blog posts, website content, novels, ... We’re almost always writing for others, so it makes sense to take their needs into account. Second, you don’t have to write a “winning” argument for that argument to be effective. Instead of going to war with readers, engage in a dialogue. Sometimes it’s enough to get someone to see your point of view or think about something in a different way.

The view of downtown Denver from Carolyn's home.

The view of downtown Denver from Carolyn's home.

WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS DO YOU TYPICALLY WORK ON?

I create a marketing strategy for my clients to help them communicate with their target audience and grow their business.

Lately, I’ve been leading a lot of corporate marketing and branding workshops and writing workshops in Colorado and around the country. 
Companies with unclear messaging often need foundational structure and support.

The workshops I lead help clients focus their message and get the entire team on the same page. From there, I create a marketing strategy for my clients to help them communicate with their target audience and grow their business. That strategy identifies their value, key differentiators, and competitive advantage. I basically help them increase awareness about their business and convert prospects into customers.

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SHARE THE MOST INTERESTING STORY FROM YOUR LINE OF WORK.

One of the most rewarding things I do is help companies solidify their identity and communicate their value to their target audience as effectively as possible. I recently led a two-day marketing/branding workshop for a client, and at first the 12 team members in attendance couldn’t understand how the workshop could last more than 1-2 hours! However, during our two days together the team shared their ideas and passions, and together we built a marketing strategy that the entire team stands behind.

The teams I work with always have a lot to share, and it’s my job to guide their conversations and capture ideas and insights that help to shape the company’s direction. Brand sessions sometimes feel like therapy sessions for the attendees. Most attendees leave inspired with a renewed focus on contributing to the success of the business.

Brand sessions sometimes feel like therapy sessions for the attendees.

WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS DO YOU HAVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO BECOME A WRITER/EDITOR?

I never planned to be writer. I never took AP English in HS. I was a political science major in college until a professor suggested I become an English double major. I write well because I’ve always read voraciously. And because for more than half of my life I’ve spent most hours of most days writing.
My teachers in school and professors in college always marked up my papers and pointed out areas for improvement. And I paid attention. My mentor at the Pentagon, John Beasley, took me under his wing. He pushed me to excel, constantly challenged my writing and editing decisions, and didn’t give praise lightly. What I’ve learned is that if someone smarter than you gives you advice – take it!

If you want to become a writer/editor, then spend your waking hours reading and writing. And revise, revise, revise. Write the ugly first draft and then give it shape and form. Make it beautiful. When I was teaching at the University of Virginia and CU Boulder, I required my students to revise every paper at least three times. When I edit fiction and nonfiction books, I mark up the pages and comment extensively, all with the goal of helping authors tell the best story possible. Smart, ambitious people can become excellent writers and editors – but their work ethic has to be spot on. They have to want it.

Carolyn with colleagues at the Pentagon, including mentor John Beasley to her left.

Carolyn with colleagues at the Pentagon, including mentor John Beasley to her left.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RECOMMEND?

I love Strunk and White from a “how to write” perspective. From a fiction writer’s perspective, I love The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I believe it’s important to understand what good stories look like and how they’re told.

In my free time, I read 19th-century British novels, books by Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Dickens. I love the Modernists and Ezra Pound’s maxim, “Make It New!” I love colonial literature and fin de siècle novels that feature the New Woman. I also love good mysteries – Elizabeth George, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle. I guess you might say I love books.

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What are your coffee rites? 

I start every day with coffee. I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed for the past 20-plus years without coffee. For me, it’s an early-morning pleasure. My boyfriend makes it for me about half the time, which is a bonus. I like a medium to full-bodied blend made with the espresso machine or French press. I’m loving the Woodsong Sumatra I’m drinking right now.

One of many murals visible from Carolyn's balcony.

One of many murals visible from Carolyn's balcony.

If you could have coffee with anyone, who would it be? 

Barack and Michelle Obama. It’s a nostalgic thing, I’m sure. We would sit on my tiny balcony in RiNo (River North Art District, Denver) and sip our Woodsong Sumatra and take in the scene. We would look at the gentrification and the exodus of artists and people of color and the slapdash buildings seemingly constructed overnight, and we’d do more than just commiserate. We’d build an ambitious, forward-thinking strategy and then turn strategy into action. 
Barack and Michelle are idea people. More than that, they give a damn and get things done. They aren’t perfect, and they have flaws like everyone else. But I believe they represented and continue to represent the sort of hope that we need. That I need. There on my balcony, we would sip our coffee, and they would show the way.
 

Have a project in need of a brand strategist, editor, writer, or teacher?

Contact Carolyn through one of these channels:

Web
Facebook
Instagram
LinkedIn

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Do you have a business or endeavor you'd like to share with us along with your coffee rites? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us here

 
Coffee Rites: Michael Van der Linden of Linden Botanicals
 
Michael Van der Linden at home in Denver with coffee, books, and teas.

Michael Van der Linden at home in Denver with coffee, books, and teas.

Before Brandon and I knew that Michael was planning to launch Linden Botanicals, we thought he just took the most amazing vacations ever, and we had serious travel-envy. We still do, but our travel-envy expanded into excitement when we learned his trips had been to source farmers and cultivators for his new business, Linden Botanicals. Linden Botanicals sells a selection of herbs curated with extreme care and research for their ability to optimize health and well-being.

Michael's story of how and why he decided to launch his business is as interesting as his travelogues, and we're thankful he took an afternoon to sit down with us for coffee, tea, and conversation.

How did you become a Coloradan?

I was a transplant. I came here from Connecticut because my kids came out here first. They said it was great, and now I’ve been here about six years. 

Michael finds Phllanthus Niruri growing in the Amazon in Peru on a sourcing trip (2016).

Michael finds Phllanthus Niruri growing in the Amazon in Peru on a sourcing trip (2016).

Brewing Woodsong Coffee beans for espresso at home.

Brewing Woodsong Coffee beans for espresso at home.

When and why did you found Linden Botanicals? 

Linden Botanicals was founded out of a passion for helping people optimize their health. I had Lyme disease 10 years ago. It took four years to get over it, with three years of antibiotics that did nothing. I found Phyllanthus Niruri, a plant from the Amazon rainforest known for aiding kidney health. Lyme disease can affect every system and get into your central nervous system. Phyllanthus Niruri originally helped me with a kidney stone (Phyllanthus Niruri’s other name, Chanca Piedra, means “stone breaker”), so I did a lot more research and learned it could also be helpful for the Lyme disease – there are more than 1,000 studies done on this plant.

You can make the tea like you would drip coffee using the powdered plant. Tea has a number of health benefits and I use it daily. For example, I drink a mix of Phyllanthus Niruri, Terminalia Chebula, and Cistanche Tubulosa before going to the gym. Terminalia Chebula is good for your joints; it helps support cartilage. Cistanche Tubulosa is a good support for bones and muscles. I use a ½ teaspoon of the mixed extracts in a cup of blueberry juice. You could use water or another juice, that’s just my preference. 

Michael displays loose leaf tea from his shop.

Michael displays loose leaf tea from his shop.

Where are your herbs sourced from and how did you choose which to sell? 

We chose very carefully and set out to keep our selection narrow, only choosing plants with research and science behind them. We have nine plants, and Phyllanthus Niruri was the first one we selected because of my experience with it. The rest were selected after careful research to be sure they are effective and safe. I wanted plants that would repair the body’s systems. Where the plants come from and when they’re picked all make a difference, too. You want to be sure you’re getting the real plant that’s the best quality of its type. Phyllanthus Niruri comes from Peru, in the Amazon. Cistanche Tubulosa is found in Mongolia. Terminalia Chebula is from a tree in India. Just like with grapes, the terroir matters for their phytochemical value.  

We visited the countries and growers we were interested in sourcing from before choosing. The point of visiting is to get to know the people collecting the plant and drying it. Having tea or coffee with a grower is a great way to get to know them. We wanted to be sure that the process would be fair for everyone involved with growing and sourcing the plant and that every plant grown was organic and processed in FDA-certified facilities. Some companies pay workers a fraction of a penny, so meeting with the entire supply chain is important to ensure workers are getting fair wages. In Peru, we explored the Amazon jungles to find Phyllanthus Niruri. In India, we went out into the fields and met members of women’s cooperatives. We’re trying to be conscious of the whole process while providing education to customers about the plants and their benefits. They’re not just tasty teas. Drinking teas from these plants is all about optimizing health.

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What’s your favorite travel story from sourcing the plants? 

Our recent trip to Morocco. That trip will result in some new products that we don’t have for sale just yet. Morocco is a good example of our sourcing philosophy. We went with an open mind to learn from the local traditions. The information we learned has convinced me to add argan oil to our lineup. It has a nutty flavor and can be used as a carrier oil for other herbs – our use will be very different from the hair products you may be familiar with. The trip was amazing. The people were all so friendly and inviting. Plus we got to ride camels out into the dunes of the Sahara Desert, drink Moroccan mint tea, camp in the desert, and see the Milky Way without city lights in the way. 

Michael on camel back in the Sahara Desert, Morocco (2017).

Michael on camel back in the Sahara Desert, Morocco (2017).

Michael at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India (2017)

Michael at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India (2017)

You’re an artist in addition to an herbalist. What kind of medium do you work in? 

Almost any medium, but I’ve been concentrating on visual musicabstract animation. The skills I developed in algorithmically assisted art have led me to some interesting ideas for public artworks, which, by being fully interactive with the audience, would take on a life of their own. My favorite piece is always the one I’ll be working on next. 

View another of Michael's pieces here, and note this is our daughter's favorite, as she's dancing to it as it plays.

What would you recommend to someone new to herbal teas? 

Well, Phyllanthus Niruri is nearly always my prime recommendation. It supports so many key body systems that nearly anyone can benefit. Terminalia Chebula and Cistanche Tubulosa would be great for someone training for a marathon or just looking to supplement their exercise program to protect their bodies. I’d remind someone interested in starting to drink herbal teas that the teas should be combined with getting enough sleep, exercise and nutrition – eating well and cutting out things from your diet and life that make you sick. If those three things are in order, then the right herbal teas will help you.  

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What are your coffee rites? 

Every morning I make my girlfriend (and business partner) coffee in the espresso machine. It’s her incentive to come downstairs and get started with her day. I myself drink tea throughout the day; it’s something I grew up with and there’s a strong connection, for me, between tea and my mother. Her favorite was Earl Grey, which was also mine before Phyllanthus Niruri.  

Michael on a boat on the Amazon in search of Phyllanthus Niruri (2017).

Michael on a boat on the Amazon in search of Phyllanthus Niruri (2017).

If you could have coffee or tea with anyone, who would it be? 

There are so many people to choose – the last person on Earth? Or 1733, Johann Sebastian Bach, so we could talk about the coffee that inspired him to write the Coffee Cantata. Its libretto is about a young girl trying to convince her father to let her drink coffee.
 

Shop all of the Linden Botanicals selections here.
Follow Linden Botanicals on Facebook.
Follow Linden Botanicals on Instagram.

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Do you have a business or endeavor you'd like to share with us along with your coffee rites? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us here

 
Coffee Rites: David Blatt of Mortified Colorado
 

Brandon and I first met David Blatt after attending the Mortified Colorado: Doomed Valentines 2017 show. Since then, we've been regulars at every Mortified event, always waking up the following morning with sore stomachs from laughing too hard. Last weekend, we sat down to have coffee with David and talk about Mortified and the upcoming the 2018 Doomed Valentines show. David brought Mortified, a comedy show and podcast that features adults sharing real stories and artifacts (comics, diary entries, school projects, etc.) from adolescence on stage for hundreds of strangers, to Denver after reading pieces of his own adolescent chronicles in San Francisco.

Mortified Colorado has been ongoing bi-monthly for a year now, with regular sold-out shows in Denver's Oriental Theatre. David took some time on a Sunday afternoon to sit down with us and his chihuahua, Bella, over coffee and talk about Mortified and his own creative journey. (And for the curious - David let me humiliate myself by reading my fifth-grade diaries on stage in April, 2017, and I'm still trying to live it down).

David at home in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood.

David at home in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood.

David onstage hosting Mortified Colorado. Photo by  From The Hip Photo

David onstage hosting Mortified Colorado. Photo by From The Hip Photo

How did you become a Coloradan?

I grew up in Colorado, right by Congress Park. I left in '98, after high school, for Oberlin to study Creative Writing. After graduating, I lived in Chicago for about seven years acting and writing plays and singing in a band, and then I was in San Francisco for another seven years, making music and going to acupuncture school. 

I decided to come back to Colorado after looking at the long-term picture. I still had family in Denver, a good crew of friends, and affordable housing options (an element of San Francisco that was becoming unsustainable). I wanted to spend more time with my dad, and learned there was no Mortified chapter in Denver, so it was the perfect opportunity to bring the show back to Colorado with me.

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How did you first get into Mortified?

A friend wanted to go for his birthday. I thought it might be an awful night, but then laughed harder than I'd laughed in a long time. I went home and dug everything out, the journals, the school essays, letters, the works. I read in the Bay Area shows for five years, and then the idea of bringing Mortified back to Denver tipped the scales on my decision to return home. I went to the training for producers who want to take Mortified to new cities, and on November 4, 2016, we had our first show in Denver and sold out. 

It was a charmed start; CPR did a piece on it, and then Jamie Laurie (Jonny5 of Flobots) was a featured reader in our February show, which helped with promotion. We sold out Jamie's shows, and it's grown steadily since then. It also helps having a good relationship with BookBar, which is located close the Oriental Theater. The BookBar staff have helped connect me with local authors and helped grow the Mortified community. Nicole (the owner at BookBar) has been awesome, and it's a fun way to get to know people throughout the city. Readers divulge things they normally wouldn't, so it's kind of a sacred process.

David performs onstage in between readers during a Mortified show with house band Hot Lunch. Photo by  From The Hip Photo

David performs onstage in between readers during a Mortified show with house band Hot Lunch. Photo by From The Hip Photo

What are your coffee rites?

I enjoy coffee in small amounts, but can usually be found over my laptop with hot tea. On chilly mornings I like to brew something hot and snuggle on the couch with my pup, Bella. Also when I’m working on Mortified edits. And before bed. Throughout the day. I guess I'm never very far from a mug.

If you could have coffee (or tea) with anyone, who would you share it with?

That would have to be my mom, who passed about 12 years ago. I'd love to have another hour together so we could share some stories, and laugh, and she would probably want us to split a huge bag of potato chips. 

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When not curating readers or selling out tickets, David helps people find relief from pain and experience better health through his acupuncture and massage practice, Evolution Wellness. You can hear his music at ReverbNation.

The next Mortified show is Doomed Valentines on Saturday, February 10th from 8 PM - 10 PM at the Oriental Theater in Denver. Tickets, as you can tell, tend to sell out by day-of-show, so be sure to purchase yours now.

Want to dust off those diaries and be in the show? Visit GetMortified.com/Participate and select the Denver chapter. Brandon and I will be there, so we hope to see you in the audience or on stage!