|Somewhere in Bakersfield, CA|
And just like that, the month of April, and with that, the 2022 A - Z Challenge, is over and done. 26 letters, 26 posts, actually I even threw in a bonus post.
I participated for the 8th time this year. What was my current A - Z Challenge all about?
As a former Starbucks partner, I decided to share my ☕️ Coffee Journey. At the end of this post, you will find short descriptions and links to each and every post, and I do hope if you missed some, you'll catch up this way.
So how did it go?
Just like every year, my goal was to have all my posts written, scheduled and ready to go by the end of March. In fact I started as early as never before, mapping out my posts, gathering ideas and research material, even lining up an interview back in October of 2021.
Then, one day after my birthday in the beginning of March, I had a car accident on the freeway. While I was lucky enough to get out unharmed, it entailed time-consuming encounters with police, insurance and other involved parties. Instead of blogging, I spent my time waiting in line until someone was going to answer my important call, at least that's what they claim.
Anyway. I managed to get through the challenge with enough time to visit other blogs, which is the main fun, right? Reconnecting with some familiar blogger friends and getting to know new ones. Here are some of the ones I visited regularly, if not daily.
Here goes, in alphabetical order, and apologies if yours is not featured:
Afshan at The Pensive, a Software Engineer, Mom and Blogger, used this challenge to process her thoughts on the past two pandemic years.
Barbara over at Crackerberries came up with a creative twist every single day, wrapping up the alphabet with an epic word she borrowed from "my" language.
Dean / Dino at Facing the Mountain introduced us to the world of boxing and his favorite coach Cris, who clearly does more than teaching physical moves.
Deborah called her series Pointed Ponderings and introduced us to the most interesting terms throughout the alphabet. Have you ever heard of "revivify" or "truepenny"? Me neither. More importantly though, she managed to build a bridge to everyday life and ended up asking great questions.
Janet at Janet Smiles came up with a ton of fun ideas for dates, no matter if you're a new or a more seasoned couple. From Aquarium or Jigsaw and Scavenger Hunt to Ziplining, lots of activities lined up.
Every day, Jayashree Srivatsan introduced us to Southeast Asian food and complemented her menu with an "other cuisine" item as well with food for thoughts. I'll say, there was something for every taste.
Lisa calls her blog Musings of a middle aged Mom, and in her posts she shares thoughts and events as they unfold throughout the month. As a reward she'll even take you to the zoo!
Liz blogs at Laws of Gravity about her adventures as a substitute teacher, and let me tell you, her students are there to guarantee that there is never a dull moment.
Martha at Martha Reynolds Writes chose music from the year 1981 as her theme. I may be a little young, but I still knew and enjoyed some of her musical memories.
As promised here's the overview if you'd like to check out my posts:
A is for Apron. If you're a Starbucks customer, you're familiar with the green aprons that the baristas wear. Visiting around the holidays, you'll notice they wear red ones. What about the black aprons though? I'll tell you - in this post!
Barista is the name of the person who makes your coffee, not only at Starbucks, but any respected coffee place. What does this job entail? Find out in the letter B post.
C is for Coffee. Duh ;-) Well more specifically for Coffee Types. We distinguish between Arabica and Robusta beans. I explain the main differences in the post.
The letter D is dedicated to Dark Roast (versus Medium or Light Roast) and it talks about the entire process of roasting coffee beans. the roasting degree may be the reason you like or dislike coffee!
E is for Espresso, the basis for most coffee beverages. It consists in Crema, Body and Heart. What are those? This is what the post is about, go read it.
F is for Fair Trade, in bananas, chocolate, flowers and in coffee. Learn about processes and programs n place ensuring that everyone within the production chain is treated and compensated fairly.
Have you ever wondered what it takes until you get to enjoy a cup of coffee? Well, it all starts with Green Beans from coffee trees. At SBUX, we also like to call Newbies "Green Beans" ;-)
It is a common belief that Howard Schultz was the founder of Starbucks, and while his determination and hard work was more than instrumental, there were other people before and besides him, who will be mentioned later posts.
I was asked how I - being a non-coffee drinker at the time - even got hired by Starbucks, so I squeezed in a bonus post talking about my Interview ;-)
Italy is where Howard Schultz fell in love with espresso bars and the human connection they provide. He wanted to recreate this atmosphere in Seattle. Did he succeed right away? Did he dare to open Starbucks stores there?
J is for Java in more than one way. My post talks about Indonesian islands, which are an important coffee growing region, along with Central America and East Africa. In the post you'l also learn about different methods in coffee processing: (semi) washed vs sun-dried.
K can be a tricky letter in the English language. Thanks to the Indonesian term Kopi Luwak, it was easy for me to come up with this post about cat poop coffee. Say what? Cat poop? Yeah, but read for yourself.
Sadly, for some people, Starbucks is all about the bucks, the overpriced products. While I can't deflect the fact that quality has its price, hence L is for Latte Index, my other posts will certainly make you appreciate the love, sweat and tears that go into growing and producing good coffee.
As a company develops, so does its Mission Statement. In my post for the letter M I take you on this journey of Starbuck's guiding principles.
Everybody doesn't love or tolerate coffee. I dedicated N is for Non-Coffee Drinkers to them. I also provided a reason to why some may get an upset stomach from coffee - and a possible solution.
What does it take to open a SBUX store in a city or neighborhood? This is what the letter O is for Openings talks about.
P is for Pike Place, the original Starbucks store in Downtown Seattle, a magical place for everybody who has ever worked for the company.
I used the letter Q to answer my readers' Questions, such as "what happens with the coffee cherries once the beans are removed?"
I was especially looking forward to R is for Red Cups. First of all, who doesn't like the Holidays? Second of all it includes an interview with Robert, who was a long-time barista, temping as Santa Claus.
In my S post I talked about the difference in growing your coffee trees exposing them to direct sunlight or provide shade by planting other, higher trees.
Starbucks provides a Third Place to its customers: an important place besides home and work to relax and feel good. I mean, a comfy seat, nice music, free wi-fi and a delicious coffee?
U stands for Uniqueness - special stores architecturally, but also culturally. Have you ever gotten your coffee at a ski drive-thru?
V is for Vienna, one of the places claiming they invented coffee culture. A little sight-seeing, a little coffee recipes, you may just enjoy this post for both aspects!
In W is for Water, I pointed out the important role water takes in coffee preparation. The post also talks about the other fundamentals: freshness, proportion and grind.
I took X as in XXL to talk about the beverage sizes, but also introduced readers to the art of coffee tastings. The post also includes a fun sensory game called the Jelly Bean Experiment.
In Y as in YMCA I talked about the executives who worked hard but occasionally had fun as well.
Z stands for Zev Siegl, who was one of three friends that founded the original Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice Company
I know I say this every year - because it's true: Sadly, fewer and fewer bloggers sign up for this writing challenge. While a couple of years ago we were several thousand participants, this year, there were only 235 entries on the master list.
Well, quality over quantity, right?
That's a wrap, guys!
Thank you so much for being part of my ☕️ Coffee Journey throughout the alphabet. Now why don't you visit some of the other participants' reflection posts.
Let's keep in touch: